Book Review: Kiss Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted May 20, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Kiss Hard by Nalini Singh

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kiss Hard by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #4.
Genres: Cozy Romance
Published by TKA Distribution on May 3, 2022
Pages: 329
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel’s Enigma, Shards of Hope, “Fairy Balloons”, "An Unexpected Guest”, Allegiance of Honor, "The Song of the Wolf", Silver Silence, Archangel’s Heart, Archangel’s Viper, Ocean Light, "Elena's School of Horror", Cherish Hard, "Ain’t No Party Like A Bear Party", Archangel's Prophecy, "One Night At The Refuge", "Secret Things", Rebel Hard, Rock Hard, Wolf Rain, "Clean and Dirty", "Wolf School", "Naya’s Most Important Visitors", "Grocery Shopping", "A Gift for Kit", "Movie Night", "Kaleb and Sahara’s Meeting with Sascha and Lucas", "Housewarming at the Orchard", "Christmas in the Kitchen", "Stalking Hawke", "Romancing Drew", "Sunday Morning", "Rowan", "Baubles & Ben", Wild Embrace, Love Hard, Rock Addiction, "Music Awards", Rock Courtship , "Rock Courtship Memo"s, Rock Redemption, "Sunshine", Rock Wedding, "With This Memo", A Madness of Sunshine, "Beary Tiny Ghosts", Alpha Night, "A Wedding Breakfast", "Poker Night", "Knives and Sheaths", "Seedlings", "Star Kissed", "A Walk on the Cliffs", "Wild Cat Blues", Slave to Sensation, Caressed by Ice, Visions of Heat, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's War

Fourth in the Hard Play cozy romance series set in New Zealand and revolving around the rugby-loving Bishop-Esera family. The couple focus is on Catie River and Danny Esera.

My Take

It’s a story of finding your way through life and exploring your passions.

Oy, what a pair of parents! A mother who throws money at her youngest daughter so she doesn’t have to deal with her and a father more interested in his own fun. What’s worse is that Catie is handicapped. Really handicapped having lost both her legs when she was young.

Singh uses third person dual protagonist point-of-view from Catie’s and Danny’s perspectives, which helps us to feel how each of them tackles their lives, their problems, and how they see each other, their families, and their friends. It’s personal with amazing behind-the-scenes views of what it’s like having artificial legs — the maneuvers Catie has to consider in every situation, and the reactions people have toward her, all of which highlights Danny’s behavior. I wish Singh had dragged out the tension of Catie’s issues with her protheses. It’s certainly a useful “bible” of manners for friends and family of others who are handicapped. More behind-the-scenes action involves Catie’s and Danny’s considerations for helping friends, families, and local businesses.

The Bishop-Eseras are also a great guide to how to be family, being so supportive of Catie’s interests and career needs besides that of their boys. So practical about sports and any athlete’s future in it.

This “antagonistic” relationship Catie and Danny have is cute, jousting away on their social media platforms, and I’m surprised they haven’t figured it out a lot sooner, but then again, those who are so deeply involved rarely do. Singh eventually makes an excellent point: “You just get along in your own way.” Yep, because everyone is different and there is no one right way to fall in love.

The challenge in Kiss Hard is that betrayal of Danny and the need he has for medical oversight, a forced opportunity to challenge this pair of friends. It’s all perception, and Catie can’t toss Danny out, nor would Danny let her sacrifice herself — and lose her sponsorships. It sort of helps that Danny’s been too celibate for public relations *grin*.

Nor are those the only PR problems, as Singh references Molly and Zachary’s problems in Rock Addiction, Rock Kiss 1, and the hassle of being part of Danny’s life.

Sure, I can see having Jacqueline for a mom is handy, with all that money of hers. Catie, however, prefers to support herself these days. But thank god for Alison and Joseph and they’re being such great role models for Catie. I’d say it’s a combination of their example and her experiences with the camps that has Catie wanting to pay her luck forward.

Oh, I do love Danny’s true passion! Lucky Catie, lol! It’s too sad that Danny doesn’t see it holding up against his so very successful older brothers. I must say that some of those food combinations Danny comes up with, how he cooks, is quite inspiring. I’m considering printing out some of his suggestions to inspire me.

Okay, I gotta say that I’ve never understood why feminists think it’s so horrible of men to hold a door open or letting a woman go first, etc. It’s like Singh has Catie thinking about Joseph’s manners, that he didn’t see Catie “as lesser or weaker”. It’s simply being polite.

I keep thinking that Danny’s tense events aren’t being pushed that hard, and then I feel so much more entangled by how Catie’s dad treats her. How his actions and comments affect her thinking. It makes me so angry that parents can be so cruel and selfish, and then again that contrast with how the Bishop-Eseras behave. If only that could be taught, sigh.

It’s sweet that the Dragon and Alison get on so well, lol, coming in with such differing approaches to life.

Kiss Hard is all about character. Sure there’s action — gotta keep the story moving forward, lol, but it’s the supportiveness and generosity of these characters that cozies the story up and makes me feel so good. Dang, I’m wanting to start the whole series over just to immerse myself!

The pace is a bit slow, and yet it suits the story and its protagonists. They’ve known each other for years and respect each other, even if they are sniping away at each other. It takes a bit to break that particular aspect of their past down as they slowly come to see the truth of each other.

I do love that Singh includes peeks-in at what the other family members are doing. That bit about what Connor loves to do makes my heart melt. There are plenty of chunks of back history that pop up throughout as well, which nicely fills out their pasts.

Kiss Hard sure reinforces that comment about honesty being the best policy, but the best revelation is that it’s important to live your truth. Then Singh makes me cry again with Danny discovering yet another passion that helps him feel worthy.

The Story

It’s a major betrayal that finds Danny Esera staggering drunk, and he’s lucky that Catie is there at the bar. She’s known him forever and knows his character — he’s never betray his own beliefs.

But Catie’s caring about Danny’s reputation will have some unexpected shocks when they have to pretend to be in a relationship. How bad can it be? They’re adults in full control of their hormones and their hearts. There will be no kissing. No PDA. And definitely no falling in love.

And both are finding their joy.

The Characters

Caitliln “Catie” Moonbell River had dreamt of running in the Olympics and is now a contender for the Paralympics. Soraya is her sports agent; Ani is her publicist. Martha had been Catie’s caregiver for years. Cillian is a counselor at the camp Catie set up. Rick the Rock is a pet Danny gave her years ago.

Clive is her immature father more interested in his own fun than his daughter, even though he does love her. Gloria is his latest flavor of the week. I do like her! Ísa, a.k.a. Issie, is Catie’s older sister, an English teacher, a poet, and more of a mother to Catie than their own mother (Cherish Hard, 1). Crafty Corners is the craft empire Jacqueline Rain, a.k.a. the Dragon, built, and she had been married to Stefán, another empire builder, Jacqueline’s first husband and Issie’s father; Clive her second; and, Oliver is her third, a professor. Harlow is their business-savvy stepbrother (Cherish Hard).

Laveni, a.k.a. Veni, is Catie’s best friend with an amazing dad. Ben is Veni’s amazing sex god of a boyfriend. Suz is one of Veni’s co-workers at the hospital.

The clean-living Danny Esera plays for the Harriers. Matthew is Danny’s agent. Jake Esera is Danny’s older brother who also plays for the Harriers; he’s also the vice-captain of the national squad and before he married Juliet in Love Hard, 3, was raising his eight-year-old daughter, Esme. Calypso had been Esme’s mom. Jake is also working on a degree in automotive engineering and is doing broadcasting gigs. Alison Bishop is their mom married to Joseph Esera, who has embraced all their sons as his own. Alison has gone back to school for a history degree. God, that Joseph is so supportive! Sailor Bishop is another brother but not a rugby player as he has a passion for gardening (and is the CEO of a garden business that’s the biggest in the country) and his wife, Issie, and their two kids, nine-year-old Emmaline and Connor, who thinks his big sister hung the moon (Cherish Hard, 1). Gabriel “the Bishop” is a legend retired from rugby who runs a huge corporation and then married Charlotte, a.k.a. Charlie (Rock Hard, Rock Kiss 2) and they have a newborn daughter, Seraphina Pippa. Spot and Domino are the dogs that belong to Esme and/or Emmaline.

Brook is the Harriers’ coach. Viliame “Vili” Serevi, a winger who plays for the Southern Blizzard team, is friends with Danny. The Vilimaidens are Vili’s fan club. Romeo is a fellow teammate.

Dr Priya Chauhal had been Catie’s doctor. Dr Smitherson works at the same hospital and is one of the best at dealing with drug reactions. Detectives Green and Shan are reassuring. Dr Sung is a cardiologist, I think.

Some good friends of Danny’s include Leon who is producing a play, Chaos Bones; Jarod is an international sales rep who has a bubbly girlfriend, Noelle Lu; and, Nirav is a road engineer. Posey Greene, another amputee athlete who’s a champion skier, has been Catie’s mentor. Romanos Cavalier loves to cook. Jet is a local designer. Gary Groper gets a lesson. Mara is a shark of a sports reporter with a wealthy father. The AnonymousWannabeChef has some fantastic pictures of food on his blog. Vertigo is an unknown club. Jerri is a plus-size model whom Catie can see becoming a friend. Manaaki is a little boy wondering if Catie is a robot. Ward, an amputee athlete and charmer, is a jerk of an ex-boyfriend. Brax is a puffed-up bodybuilder whom Catie thinks is nice but too agreeable. Tae Lim had been a young crush.

Takuro is a rep from the club and a junior medic for the team. Fellow players include Daichi and Haru and the Australian James.

The Cover and Title

The cover is consistent with previous ones in the series with its black-and-white photo of a bare-chested Danny with his tattoos on his upper arms and left pec, wearing black pants. He’s in profile with his right arm upraised, leaning against a wall, his left arm stretching around his front and holding a white rugby ball with opposing elongated diamond shapes. The background is a rough cement wall with the title in black and crossing onto Danny’s lower back. Centered on his hip is the series info in white. The author’s name is in a bright fuchsia starting at his thighs — in between is an info blurb in white.

The title could be the impact of Catie’s and Danny’s relationship doing a 180, an impact of Kiss Hard.

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